Spaying and neutering – why do we do it?
By: Misa Nash
Spaying and neutering your pets can be a sensitive subject. No matter who you ask, everyone has an opinion. Not only do these procedures cut down on litters and homeless animals, but they also has many health benefits, including some that can potentially save lives.
Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. Spaying and neutering can help the overpopulation by preventing unwanted litters. Female dogs can have 3 litters with an average of 7 puppies a year. Female cats can have up to 5 litters with an average of 8 kittens. Male cats and dogs can breed as often as every week creating hundreds of unwanted litters within their lifetime. The overpopulation of these animals is ensuring that most are not taken care of. Strays often carry many diseases that spread rapidly and are dangerous. These diseases put our own pets at risk by entering your property and potentially trying to fight them. Both circumstances expose our pets to the diseases in the stray community.
Altering your pets can have possible life saving health benefits. Neutering your male helps prevent testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spaying your female helps prevent breast tumors which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat cycle is also an ideal way of preventing a pyometra, infected uterus.
Pictured above on the left is a uterus from a 15-20lb dog just out a heat cycle. On the right is a pyometra from a dog of the same size. In majority of cases, surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries is the best choice. While some of these illnesses are not completely preventable, altering your pets makes it 200 times less likely to develop.
While health benefits are the leading reason to alter your pets, it can greatly effect their behavior, as well. Unaltered pets often exhibit more temperament and behavioral problems leading them to be more likely to bite. High levels of testosterone within intact males can cause aggression, territorial behavior, including spraying or marking and can even cause them to run off to breed. Having them neutered cuts down on these levels which could help keep them more even tempered and not have the urge to breed. Spaying female pets eliminates its heat cycle which can cause them to cry incessantly, show nervous behavior and attract unwanted male animals that may become aggressive or even carry dangerous diseases.
Surgery for your pets can seem scary, but your veterinary clinic will be able to provide pre-surgical advice for you to follow. These common procedures are usually out patient and recovery can be quick and easy. Consulting your veterinary staff with any questions you have ensures that the process will run smoothly for you and your pet.